The government, faith-based communities, non-affiliated nonprofits and a few businesses have tried to provide access to food for those in need. In the best survey done in New Mexico, faith-based groups (churches, mosques, synagogues and other religious organizations) run about 70% of food pantries, 63% of soup kitchens and 33% of shelters. Private nonprofit organizations with no religious affiliation perform the balance. For the New Mexico Association of Food Banks, volunteers staff 89% of pantries, 93% of kitchens and 77% of shelters. Many programs rely entirely on volunteers: 67% of their pantry programs and 46% of their kitchens have no paid staff at all. These compassionate organizations keep New Mexico from experiencing widespread and persistent hunger.
17% of New Mexico households are food insecure (’06). 6% have very low food security.
New Mexico is 49th in child food insecurity (24% of the children; 120,000/495,000). 18% live below the poverty by federal definition.
Diabetes II from poor nutrition has become a major cost issue for New Mexico health care. Diagnosed diabetes in New Mexico continued to increase from 2000 to 2008. Diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes exceeds 10% of the population.
A high-calorie diet, combined with a lack of exercise, accounts for one- fifth of the annual deaths in the U.S.
For the same foods, a rural basket costs $85; an urban basket $55. In one study, 25% of small rural stores do not carry fresh vegetates or fruits.
60% of New Mexico residents are overweight or obese (one-third overweight; one-quarter obese). Nearly four of every five state residents eat fewer fruits and vegetables than nutritionists recommend; 22% report they have no physical activity. Source: centers for disease control.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) generally takes years or decades to develop. Prevention begins during childhood, where healthy habits can be developed. Over half of New Mexico high school students reported not engaging in recommended amounts of physical activity, and nearly 11% are obese.
Death rates from heart disease and stroke are lower than the national average. However, certain New Mexico groups are disproportionately affected by CVD. From 1996-2000, American Indian/ Alaskan Native men, Asian/Pacific islander men and Hispanic men and women had higher rates of CVD death than their U.S. counterparts.
One-fifth (20%) of New Mexico residents have no health insurance — the second highest rate in the U.S. Only half of New Mexico state employers offer health coverage. Lack of insurance carries significant public costs, since both county governments and medical facilities pay for treating customers who are not covered. Costs are estimated to be $6 billion per year.
New Mexico’s poverty rate: 17 to 19%, depending on year.
Feeding America serves New Mexico, distributing 28 million pounds of food to 162 emergency pantries, 12 soup kitchens, 7 shelters, 29 residences, 7 day care centers, 22 multi-service facilities, and 12 senior agencies. They sponsor 38 youth programs. About 35,000 volunteer-hours are donated each year.